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Morning Report: Luke Rockhold says Sean Strickland ‘proved how f****** dumb he is’ at UFC 276

Unstoppable press conference photos
Luke Rockhold
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Luke Rockhold believes Sean Strickland proved him right at UFC 276.

This pas weekend, Strickland put on one of the most derided performances in recent memory when he faced world-class kickboxer Alex Pereira. Strickland, who talked before the fight about not being afraid to strike with his more accomplished opponent, marched forward with his hands low and got brutally knocked out in the first round. And for Rockhold, who has not been shy about calling Strickland a “f****** idiot,” this just proved what he’d been saying all along.

“I think he got conned by the system,” Rockhold told Submission Radio. “Sean, he just proved how f****** dumb he is. The system wanted him to try and stand with him and prove that stupid point, and he just [fell for it]. It happens. It happens to a lot of people. You try to over-prove yourself and do something stupid. That’s the game, that’s the fight game. It’s a mental f***** battle, and he lost the battle.”

Rockhold has a contentious history with Strickland. The two were scheduled to fight at UFC 268, and spent months taking shots at one another beforehand, until Rockhold was forced out of the card due to injury. Instead, Strickland got pushed back until he eventually fought Jack Hermansson in February, setting up a de facto title eliminator against Periera. And with the UFC keen on having Pereira challenge Adesanya for the middleweight title, given Pereira’s kickboxing success over the champion, Rockhold says the promotion found the perfect guy in Strickland to set that fight up.

“Yeah, it’s an intriguing story, Alex Pereira has beat Izzy twice,” Rockhold said. “And so you’re looking at any level of intrigue, and so they’re looking for someone that they can throw in the mix, even though Alex Pereira would get mauled by, 20 guys in the UFC would probably maul him. But yeah, it’s a compelling story if you get him past a brawler like Sean Strickland. So, they did it, and it’s up and going. So, it’s my job to go f****** deter that.”

Deterring the UFC and Adesanya from a highly promotable fight may be a tall order, but the former middleweight champion is intent on trying. Rockhold is set to face Paulo Costa at UFC 278 in August, and he’s hoping to put on the kind of performance that would allow him to jump in front of Pereira.

““Anything is possible with this fight and in this fight,” Rockhold said. “Of course. I mean, Marvin Vettori is the No. 1 guy in the world, right? Or Whittaker? Paulo’s only been smoked by Izzy. Vettori barely, he didn’t do anything great against him last time. So, if I can go out there and smoke him, it’s gonna tell.”

But even if Rockhold does find his way back to another title shot, that’s only half the battle. Adesanya is undefeated at middleweight and hasn’t shown any real weaknesses in the division. But Rockhold believes he has the right mix to unseat the champ and reclaim the title.

“I know how to fight Izzy,” Rockhold said. “It’s a straightforward fight. He’s a tough fight, man. He’s a big puzzle. He’s the most complicated puzzle there is at middleweight that there’s been for a long time. So, it’s going to be interesting. But I think with the right game, that’s my fight. We were talking the other night and I think the hardest fight for me right now is Whittaker. But if I play the right game with many of these guys, it’s my fight. So, I just gotta be level-headed and focused and f****** go out there and do my thing.”

UFC 278 takes place Aug. 28 at the Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.


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Thanks for reading! See y’all tomorrow.

If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit up @JedKMeshew on Twitter and let him know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram and like us on Facebook.

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